A person is charged with intoxication manslaughter if they cause a fatal auto accident while under the influence of a controlled substance. If the driver is drunk, that means they have a BAC in excess of the 0.08 legal limit. A motorist can also be charged with intoxication manslaughter if there is evidence of any drugs in system, which includes use or abuse of prescription medications.
If a motorist was not intoxicated during a fatal vehicle accident, he or she may instead be charged with manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide. These crimes carry different legal penalties. Whatever the case may be, an Austin, TX DWI attorney is essential if you have been involved in a vehicle accident and were drunk or under the influence of drugs.
Intoxication Manslaughter Is a Second-Degree Felony
Intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree penally according to Texas state law. While the loss of life is involved, this differs from murder in that the accident was not premeditated by the intoxicated motorist. The penalties for intoxication manslaughter are severe, but they are not as harsh as the penalties for murder charges.
That said, intoxication manslaughter may be considered a first-degree felony if the person killed in the auto accident is an officer of the peace, a firefighter, or an EMT. In such cases, the penalties are adjusted to reflect the situation.
Jail Time for Intoxication Manslaughter
Because intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony, a person charged with this crime will face between 2 and 20 years in prison.
Fines for Intoxication Manslaughter
As a second-degree felony, people charged with intoxication manslaughter will face a fine of up to $10,000.
Driver’s License Suspension
In addition to time served in prison and a hefty fine, people charged with intoxication manslaughter will also have their driver’s license suspended. The driver’s license may be suspended anywhere between 180 days to 2 years.
Given the severity of the crime, intoxication manslaughter will also entail community service. There’s a minimum of 240 hours of community service involved with these charges. A court may impose up to 800 hours of community service depending on the nature of the case.
First-Degree Felony Intoxication Manslaughter Penalties
If the fatal car accident results in the death of a first responder, the stiffer penalties include the following:
- 5-99 years or life in prison
- Fine of up to $10,000
For first-time convictions, probation or community supervision may be an option as long as the prison sentence is fewer than 10 years. Failure to meet the conditions of community supervision will result in imprisonment for the remainder of the original maximum prison sentence.
How a Lawyer Can Help You
Given the penalties of intoxication manslaughter cases, it’s of the utmost importance that you meed with a lawyer about your case. Your criminal defense attorney can craft a sound legal strategy that takes into account all of the evidence from the accident. Your attorney can also advise you and handling the penalties associated with intoxication manslaughter and how to proceed after serving time and paying your debt to society.
Going it alone can be difficult, especially given the complexity of the Texas legal code. An attorney will offer sound guidance as well as peace of mind during the legal process.
Learn More About Your Legal Options
To learn more about your legal rights and options following a drunk driving or intoxicated driving accident, contact an experienced DWI defense lawyer today. Our legal team will offer expert counsel during your case, helping you make the best decisions given the circumstances you face.